Earthquake Preparedness

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Earthquake Preparedness

Earthquake Preparedness

Disaster Occurrence

A disaster occurs somewhere in the world almost daily; however, to most people, disasters of the type discussed in this article are unforeseen events. A group of disasters, including the September 11th terrorist attacks; the Indian Ocean tsunami; Hurricane Katrina; the 2010 Haitian earthquake; and the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan have focused people's attention on this topic.

Despite the increase in regular awareness with recent events, the relative infrequency of major catastrophes affecting defined populations, leads to a certain degree of complacency and underestimation of the impact of such an event. The result of complacency is relative reluctance to devote the necessary resources for adequate disaster preparedness. Indeed, several authors note that the best time to propose major changes for disaster preparedness, including its funding, is immediately following a serious disaster, even if the event has occurred in a remote location (Disaster Planning and Recovery, 2009).


In the United States, large multiple-casualty events are exceptionally rare by world standards. Only 10 disasters in US history have resulted in more than 1000 fatalities. The mighty majority of significant events has resulted in fewer than 40 fatalities. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the September 11th attacks caused 2819 deaths. Compared with 44,065 deaths from motor vehicle accidents in 2002, this number is small. However, the dramatic nature of disasters, with a relatively large death toll and psychological impact for a short time period can overwhelm an unprepared health and response system (Buchanan, 2001).

Unlike hurricanes and some other natural hazards, earthquakes strike suddenly and without warning. Nevertheless, if the business that you own or work for is located in a region at risk for earthquakes, there are many things that can be done to reduce the chances that those who work in or visit the premises will be injured, that property there will be damaged, or that your everyday operations will be unduly disrupted by an earthquake. These activities all fall under the concept of preparedness because to be effective they must be done before earthquakes occur.

Preparing for earthquakes involves (1) learning what employers and employees should do before, during, and after earthquakes; and (2) doing or preparing to do those things now, before the next quake. Workplace preparedness requires the participation of owners, managers, and workers, as well as those who design, build, regulate, and maintain buildings used as workplaces (Brooks, 2003).

Before the Next Earthquake

Following are activities that can be undertaken now:

Prepare Your Facilities

Make your buildings safer to be in during earthquakes and more resistant to earthquake damage and disruption. Depending on when and how they were designed, built, and furnished, existing buildings may have weaknesses that make them more vulnerable to earthquakes.

Facilities that are constructed before adequate provisions came into effect may have structural vulnerabilities.

It is also important to know whether and for how extensive local seismic code provisions have addressed nonstructural building components. Nonstructural items include utility systems and architectural elements ...
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